Blog Entry

Was it The Greatest Game Ever?

Posted on: December 2, 2009 1:56 am
It doesn't seem like a decade ago.   The 1999 Division 2 Championship game between the Carson-Newman Eagles of Tennessee and my Northwest Missouri Bearcats may have gone down as one of the greatest championship games in college history.  In a wild game, Northwest defeated the Eagles 58 to 52 in four overtimes.  ESPN Analyst Bill Curry to this day calls it the best game he has ever seen.  The game though, didn't start out that way for Northwest.

Carson-Newman came loaded for bear, moose, elk, elephants, rhinos, and any other big game you can think of.  Behind a pounding running game that kept the ball out of the hands of the NW offense, the Eagles lead 24-7 at halftime, and revenge for a 24-6 loss to the Bearcats in the 1998 Championship, looked like a real possibility.  Northwest turnovers plagued them into the 3rd qtr, and the fourth quarter saw them continue to trail by double digits,  Finally the offense woke up for NW.  The game became the quick strike passing attack of the Bearcats versus the pounding running game of the Eagles. Carson-Newman would pile up 400 + yards on the ground for the game.  Entering the fourth quarter, NW semed hopelessly behind 30-14. 

The teams traded scores early in the 4th like a couple of punch drunk middleweights hammering away carelessly at one another.  30-22, then 37-22, then 37-29.  However Carson-Newman scored with 3:12 left in the game.  44-29 looked like a tough chore with not alot of time left.  However, NW came through with a one minute drive to get the game to 8.  A failed onsides kick gave the Eagles a chance to run out the clock.  A crucial mistake by a C-N RB helped NW.  On a sweep, a back ran out of bounds, saving the 'Cats precious time.  The NW defense held firm on a 4th down play, and with 51 seconds left, they were a long 74 yards away from a potential tie.  With 10 seconds left, Northwest's Travis Miles hit J.R. Hill down the sideline for a 34 yard TD.  Then, a reserve tight end made a miracle catch in the back of the end zone, dragging one foot in bounds for the tying 2 point conversion.  At a stunning 44-44, the game was headed to OT and the Eagles fans selling national championship T-Shirts outside the stadium had to stop and wait for the game to conclude.

The first two OT's saw each team miss a FG.  Starting overtime #3, the Eagles scored on a one yard run and succeeded in their attempt for two.  NW came right back with a TD run of 16 yards and their own 2 point conversion pass.  Note that after the second OT, the 2 point conversions were mandatory.

Finally, in the fourth overtime, the Bearcats finally grabbed their first lead of the day.  A 3 yard run gave them a 58-52 lead.  The conversion failed though, leaving the door wide open for the Eagles.  On first and 10 from the 12, an Eagles RB fumbled and when a Bearcat safety Ryan Miller jumped on the ball, the game was finally over.  After 178 offensive plays and 1063 yards of total offense from both teams, one of the greatest football games in college history, especially one that determined an NCAA national champion, was finished on the field.

Okay, I am probably just a bit biased on this one, looking at the world through green and white Bearcat colored glasses.  It was a remarkable game though.  The worst part of the whole day, I wasn't able to see it,  i was on a plane coming back from Florida when it was going on.  Got home, couldn't find the score on the radio and couldn't catch anyone home who had seen the game.  Finally saw the score on a TV in an Applebee's tuned to ESPN.  Fortunately, a friend had recorded it, so later that week I was able to sit and watch it.  Just this year, the NCAA has released the game on DVD.  It is a must for the football fan in your life.  Also of note, both teams are playing this weekend for the right to return to the D2 championship game in Florence, Alabama.  That would be interesting to play each other once again exactly a decade later.

So, what are your nominees for the greatest game.  Texas - USC?  OSU and Miami?  Another game?  I know there were some great D2 Championship games before Northwest's thriller.  There are no wrong answers here.  It will be interesting to see what everyones favorites are.  Thanks for reading my blog for this week.

Since: Dec 3, 2008
Posted on: December 6, 2009 12:15 am

Was it The Greatest Game Ever?

You just made me remember this game again . It was one of the best ive ever seen. Good job Mel and good luck in your next game.

Since: Dec 5, 2009
Posted on: December 6, 2009 12:01 am

Was it The Greatest Game Ever?

I was at the 1999 game as a freshman member of the band and it was the  I remember that we underprinted the amount of t-shirts, the after-game buffet was cold and nobody cared after the adreline high we were all on. That was one of the most memorable moments of my college career. You may be a D1 school but we've been to the Nat'l championship 5 years running. Go CATS!

Since: Jul 8, 2007
Posted on: December 4, 2009 2:37 pm

Was it The Greatest Game Ever?

crappy teams, crappy football. show me the highlights if the game was that good. do not care to watch the whole game.

Since: Mar 26, 2008
Posted on: December 4, 2009 10:24 am

Was it The Greatest Game Ever?

There are so many.  The Boise St. Fiesta Bowl stands out for sure.  I enjoyed the Texas USC National championship game, since USC was winning everything under the sun for so many seasons, I was rooting for the underdog Longhorns since I really didn't have a dog in that fight.  Showing my age a little now were the Nebraska/Oklahoma Orange bowls of the early 70's seemed to always be entertaining.  And in one of them was the birth of the Fumblerouski play where the QB laid the ball down on the ground in front of a lineman to pick up and run in.  I guess I enjoyed those games so much because my Grandpa was a big Nebraska fan and I loved watching those Orange Bowls with him.

Since: Sep 4, 2006
Posted on: December 4, 2009 2:32 am

Was it The Greatest Game Ever?

But my fav game ever was the Boise St win in the Fiesta Bowl. That game had special written all over it.  It was one of the most enjoyable games I have ever watched that didn't involve on of my favorite teams. The fact that Oklahoma was expected to just walk all over this team to prove that the non BCS schools don't belong is only half the story.
 Sorry to say I didn't hear of the NWMS-CN game. It sounds like one of the best of all time.

Since: Dec 7, 2007
Posted on: December 4, 2009 12:48 am

Was it The Greatest Game Ever?

The idea of this blog was to point out how good the small college games can be.  Yes, there may have been better regular season games, but as a game that decided the national championship, it was an all-time classic.  Would love to hear others recount their favorite championship game.  Maybe you are an old timer like me and think the best game that decided a D1 championship was OU and NU in 1971, on Thanksgiving day.  Maybe you're a 'Canes fan and remeber the 31-30 game for Snellenberger's team.  Had to have been some classic D3 and NAIA games also. 

Appreciate your opinion bob.   Just wanted to know everyone favorite game.

Thanks everyone for your comments.  As Dean Martin used to say, keep those cards and letters coming.

Since: Jan 17, 2007
Posted on: December 3, 2009 11:25 pm

Was it The Greatest Game Ever?

Greatest game ever???  Not even close!  I can think of many better games.  Just the fact that it's Div 2 means that, well, it doesn't mean much, except to the fans of the schools involved.  Get over yourself.

Since: Nov 30, 2006
Posted on: December 3, 2009 8:10 pm

Was it The Greatest Game Ever?

Greatest game ever, period.  No insight needed.

Since: Mar 7, 2008
Posted on: December 3, 2009 8:02 pm

Was it The Greatest Game Ever?

Great stuff D2. I'd forgotten about that game but recall how great it was. Carson-Newman is about 45 minutes down the road from me, and I've heard Ken Sparks speak a few times, he's a real class act. CN used to be a very dominant program but I think they've dropped off a bit since those days.

Watching those kind of games can be special. Those teams know that there probably won't be any football to be played on Sunday and tend to play with more passion than a lot of the top players in the big D1 conferences. That game was incredible, but I would say Texas USC in the Rose Bowl(?). I had no rooting interest and was blown away by that game. Of course, it's easy to be short-sighted have a short memory on great games.

Homer pick for me would be watching Manning lead the Vols over Bama for the first time in forever. Manning to Joey Kent. Beautiful.

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: December 3, 2009 7:17 pm

Was it The Greatest Game Ever?

And by SWMS, I mean NWMS... lol

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